The training wheels are coming off
By Kerri Irvin-Ross, Chief Executive Officer
As I reflect on last week's activities, I am sitting at the Youth Resource Centre (YRC), visiting the team members working the night shift. This was a week of many firsts for me at MYS including participating in a sharing circle and smudge, chairing the Executive Management meeting, attending a Board meeting, meeting with Minister Fielding at the legislative building, and working a shift at the Youth Resource Centre. These firsts have helped prepare me for my first week as CEO at MYS when I will be operating without Erma’s thoughtful guidance.
I began the week in a sharing circle with Melanie Ferris and Virginia Spence discussing how we would prepare our Smudge Room for our youth and team members. After I left the circle they reorganized the room, setting up a warm and welcoming circle for all to enjoy. I want to thank them for taking the initiative to prepare our ceremonial room.
MYS hosted a baby shower! It was exciting to join one of our youth and her family to celebrate the birth of her son. It was a wonderful event that included games, great food, gifts, and lots of laughter. I couldn’t be more proud of the MYS team for the care and support they are providing to this young family. This baby is very lucky to be loved and cherished not only by his mother, but by the MYS village. I was very happy to participate in this celebration of family and love.
At my first Board meeting I met all the dedicated women and men who work so hard on behalf of MYS. They shared their vision and I witnessed their passion for the organization. Their commitment was evident as we spoke about the needs of youth, desired outcomes of programs/services, and enhancing Indigenous cultural opportunities for both youth and community. They made me feel very welcome, telling me they were taking it easy on me since it was my first meeting. I truly appreciated that.
I spent Friday morning touring more MYS homes. Once again, I heard stories of dedication and sacrifice for the youth we serve. I heard many accounts about the youth as artists, students, and athletes. Team members advocated on behalf of their youth, wanting to ensure we provide quality programs to meet their needs. The homes were friendly and comfortable. I look forward to more visits to meet team members and youth.
During the weekend I worked both an evening and night short shift at the YRC. I observed firsthand the unconditional support youth receive when they attend the YRC and how hard the team members work to make it feel like home. I watched youth in the kitchen making grilled cheese sandwiches, drinking chocolate milk, and laughing together. They were very engaging and tolerant as they encountered a perfect stranger in their space. I witnessed the Winnipeg Police Services and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services coming together to support a youth in crisis.
It was impressive to see team members of MYS working closely with emergency responders to ensure the safety of a youth. I look forward to more shifts to assist me in further understanding the important role YRC plays in supporting our youth.
On Friday I watched as endless team members wished Erma well in her retirement. As she walked through the building saying her final goodbyes, she was joined by team members who escorted her as she left 175 Mayfair for the last time as an official team member.
It is the end of an era for MYS and a new beginning for Erma and her family. As her chapter comes to a close at MYS I am beginning a new phase with the organization. The past four weeks have been filled with many learning opportunities that have prepared me to ride without my training wheels and I know that there are many team members, board members, and stakeholders committed to the success of MYS who are on this journey with me. I look forward to a bright future for MYS as our dedicated team continues to work diligently to ensure we provide quality services to our youth and their families for many more years.
In this photo: Many of our MYS Board members and I joined Dr. Erma Chapman earlier this month to wish her well as she enters retirement.